• A code name.

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Example Sentences

“In this competition, the contestants’ names are replaced with cryptonyms to prevent any possible bias.”

“We refer to jury members by cryptonyms to preserve their anonymity.”

“The Secret Service uses special cryptonyms to refer to members of the presidential family.”

Word Origin

Greek, late 19th century

Why this word?

Spy movies and political thrillers often lean heavily on the use of code names, or “cryptonyms,” a term that developed from the combination of the Latin word “crypto” (“hidden”) and the combining form “-onym,” which designates a name. The Secret Service originally used cryptonyms to keep the movements of important figures confidential, and they still keep the tradition alive, but the code names are now public knowledge. Some notable former presidential cryptonyms include “Lancer” for President John F. Kennedy (a reference to Camelot and King Arthur’s court), “Deacon” for President Jimmy Carter (a reference to his commitment to the Christian faith), “Rawhide” for President Ronald Reagan (a nod to his past in Hollywood Westerns), and “Renegade” for President Obama. (The entire Obama family followed the tradition of receiving alliterative cryptonyms, with Michelle as “Renaissance,” Malia as “Radiance,” and Sasha as “Rosebud.”)

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